The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has finally woken up to identify, shift or remove illegal religious structures that have come up indiscriminately on its terrain. The PCMC has decided to move into action after a state government directive to the effect received last month.
For starters, the PCMC has decided to survey all the illegal religious structures — which began as a “small wall” and have grown manifold — to find the nature of illegality committed. As per its earlier survey, as many as 198 illegal structures have been set up within its jurisdiction. The illegal religious structures, officials said, do not belong to any particular religious group.
Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Rajiv Jadhav on Sunday told The Indian Express that the Bombay High Court has directed the state government to act against illegal structures in the state. “Accordingly, the state government has directed civic bodies in Maharashtra to take action in their respective jurisdiction,” he said.
Jadhav said as per the directives, they will find out the structures that can be regularised, structures that can be shifted and then decide about the fate of those which cannot be regularised. “We will find out structures where the illegality can be regularised as per the law. We will find out those structures that could be shifted to other locations.
And then, we will remove those structures which cause obstruction to the traffic as per the court directives,” he said.
In Pimpri-Chinchwad, religious structures are blatantly set up in close proximity to the rivers, within the floodlines where constructions are prohibited, and along the busy roads, even as the civic administration turns a blind eye towards them, according to activists.
Activists said that though PCMC is promising to act against illegal religious structures, it will not do so as it has not done so in the past. “This is because they are patronised by politicians. Therefore, the possibility of PCMC acting against the religious structures is quite remote,” said civic activist D G Baliga, adding, “If PCMC fails to act, the matter should again be brought to the notice of the court.”
PCMC city engineer Mahavir Kamble said a committee under the district collector will decide the fate of the illegal religious structures. “There are no persons affiliated with political parties in the committee. Only officials will take the call the fate of the structures,” he said.
Another activist Deepak Vichare said the PCMC has allowed religious structures to come up along the roads and in close proximity to the rivers. “These illegal structures get free power and water. They are growing manifold without seeking any building construction permission from the PCMC,” he said, adding that PCMC officials are feigning ignorance over the way the illegal religious structures are growing.